Cape Clear Courses

For information about accommodation or our Autumn 2017 courses at Cape Clear Bird Observatory please call BirdWatch Ireland on 01-2819878 or 00-353-1-2819878 if calling from outside Ireland or email

Next Courses:    

Cape Clear Bird Ringing Course: 6th - 10th September 2017

Leader: Sam Bayley

Course Price: €300.00 (including accommodation)

To Get An Application Form: Please call BirdWatch Ireland on 01-2819878 (from outside Ireland, 353-1-2819878) or email

For the first time BirdWatch Ireland are running a residential bird ringing course this year at Cape Clear Bird Observatory.

This course is for existing bird ringers of all permits with emphasis on developing ageing and sexing techniques, computerising data and enhancing general field craft.  The course will be run by experienced ringers with training endorsements and are ideal opportunities for permit assessments, being reviewed for a training endorsement and general experience/independent feedback.

Endorsed by the British Trust for Ornithology and with a representative present, the course will involve both theory and practical sessions with the use of mist nets, whoosh net, traps and lures.

Accommodation will be hostel style with self catering and there is a shop, pub and cafe/restaurant on the island as well.


From Seabirds to Songbirds: 11th – 15th September 2017

Leader: Dick Coombes

Course price: €195.00

To Book: Please call BirdWatch Ireland on 01-2819878 (from outside Ireland, 353-1-2819878) 

The course will cover a wide range of topics, from the skills needed to identify, understand and appreciate birds to knowing when and where to find them.  Through observation and the use of a field notebook you will discover how to interpret aspects of birds’ plumage and behaviour and develop the skills to help you to identify both familiar and unfamiliar species. The course will also include some survey techniques and counting methods, the work of Cape Clear Bird Observatory and the effect of weather on birds and migration.

Cape Clear Island, looking south
Cape Clear Island, looking south

During the week of indoor and field-based activities, Dick will explore the wonders of migration with an emphasis on seabirds, their breeding habits and the fascinating journeys they undertake. The month of September is a stunning time on Cape with the opportunity to witness the migratory movements of seabirds such as Manx Shearwater, Storm Petrel, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Gannet and auks as they pass offshore. Less common, but regularly seen off Cape, are Sooty Shearwater, Great Skua and Arctic Skua and there is always the chance of a Pomarine Skua or Great Shearwater if the weather is favourable. This is also a good time to see cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoise) off Cape’s headlands and with any luck, perhaps other scarce ocean creatures such as Leatherback Turtle and Sunfish may turn up. An experience not to be missed!

Participants enjoying a course on Cape Clear Island
Participants enjoying a course on Cape Clear Island

Migratory land birds such as Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff and Wheatear stop off at Cape in autumn en route to their African wintering grounds and during walks around the island, a particular eye will be kept out for some of the other rarer migrants such as Wryneck, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Wood Warbler and Reed Warbler – all regulars on Cape in September.


Seawatching on Cape Clear
Seawatching on Cape Clear

Course fee, covers tuition and materials: €195.00

BirdWatch Ireland recommends staying at the Observatory in the North Harbour, book with BirdWatch Ireland, or at the Cape Clear Holiday Hostel, located in the scenic South Harbour. Contact them for bookings at 028-41968 or visit them online at


Great Shearwater, one of Cape Clear's most sought-after bird species (Photo: Dick Coombes)
Great Shearwater, one of Cape Clear's most sought-after bird species
(Photo: Dick Coombes)

For more information or to make a booking, please call BirdWatch Ireland on 01-2819878
(from outside Ireland, 353-1-2819878).



This course offers an insight into the world of migration and the joys of sea watching delivered in a humorous and enthusiastic manner by BirdWatch Ireland’s well known Countryside Bird Survey Co-ordinator, Dick Coombes.


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